New evidence has revealed that an ancient hillfort in Caerau was the powerhouse for the whole of Cardiff more than 2,000 years ago.
Archaeologists working on the Iron Age hillfort have discovered it was the political and power centre for the entire Cardiff region.
Excavations are being carried out at the site as part of the CAER Heritage Project by Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, the charity Action in Caerau and Ely and local schools and residents.
The project’s co-director Dr Oliver Davis said: “Despite its size and obvious importance the site is a bit of an enigma. No archaeologists have ever explored the hillfort and as a result nobody knows how the settlement was organised inside, how long it was occupied, or even who lived there.”
But archaeologists have now uncovered a “considerable” amount of new information including three Iron Age roundhouses and a stone pathway.
The team has also recently examined three walls that surround the hillfort.
But Dr Davis said these were unlikely to have been just for defence purposes and said they are looking at whether the people who lived there were actually developing their own community.
He said the excavations show the site was occupied until at least the third century AD and well into the Roman period and that evidence of life has been found through the discovery of tools and ceramics. The team has also just found a glass bead from the Iron Age and an enamelled brooch from the Roman period.
Dr Davis said: “Both these objects indicate that individuals were concerned with their appearance and that life in the past was a little more colourful that we sometimes think.”
Dave Horton from Action in Caerau and Ely said he has seen a new found pride in the community throughout the project.
“The last few weeks have seen a whirlwind of activity in Ely and Caerau focused around our beautiful iron-age hillfort.
“Literally hundreds of local people have visited the site and have dug together, learned new skills, shared local knowledge, and have celebrated together.”
He added: “We have found new pride in the history of
our community and have been inspired to continue building community for the future.”